A lot of people ask themselves if plant-based diets get enough daily intake of iron. And that’s a great question! Unfortunately, iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world.
But first what is Iron?!
That’s a great question! Iron is a mineral that is naturally present in many foods, fortified to certain foods and available as a dietary supplement.
What do we use Iron for?
It is necessary for growth, for the overall development, and for a normal cellular function. But not only, iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues/muscles.
Plant-based Vs Meat eaters
Let the battle begin! It is commonly thought that those who eat plant-based diets may be more prone to iron deficiency, but it turns out that they’re no more likely to suffer from iron deficiency anemia than anybody else.
This may be because not only do those eating meat-free diets tend to get more fiber, and magnesium, and vitamins like A, C, and E; they also get more iron. But the iron found in plants is non-heme iron whereas those eating meat-free diets don’t get any of the heme iron found in blood and muscle. But is that a good thing?
Heme Iron VS Non-Heme Iron
Dietary iron has two forms: Heme and Non-heme. Plants and iron-fortified foods contain Non-heme iron, whereas meat, poultry, and seafood contain both, heme and non-heme iron. It is important to note that the ratio of heme iron to non-heme in meat iron is approximately 45% – 55%.
Heme iron passes twice to three times as easily through the bloodstream than does its non-heme counterpart. When your body is lacking iron, iron easily passes through the intestinal membrane into the bloodstream. However, when you already have sufficient iron, the mineral does not pass as easily. If your body has sufficient iron, there is a greater chance that eating meat will cause you to intake too much iron. The downside of this is that our digestive system has difficulty regulating/suppressing the excess amount of iron ingested.
Side effects of Iron (source: USDA)
Low Iron side effects:
Low iron levels over a long period of time can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Symptoms include lack of energy, shortness of breath, headaches, irritability, dizziness, or weight loss. Physical signs of iron deficiency are a pale tongue and spoon-shaped nails.
Excess Iron side effects:
It is unlikely that a person would take too much iron. However, children can sometimes develop iron poisoning by swallowing too many iron supplements. Symptoms of iron poisoning include fatigue, anorexia, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, weight loss, shortness of breath, grayish color to the skin.
How much Iron should you aim for?
GoGo Quinoa high in Iron products
A food is considered high a vitamin and minerals if the percentage of this nutrient is at least 15% of the daily value intake. Thanks to our quinoa a lot of GoGo Quinoa’s products have high levels of iron. It helps you obtain a healthy daily intake of iron.